The World hangs on the precipice of annihilation. Russian weapons on discovered on Cuban soil. The world holds it’s breath as the United States squares up to Russia. It seems we are only seconds away from destruction.
Meanwhile in North Yorkshire, Tom and his Dad are facing life without Toms mother. Meanwhile the new early warning buildings are rising up from the moors above their home. Do they provide security or threat ? Threats seem to be both near and far and dark days roll across Tom’s world. His world has been turned inside out leaving him a short step from disaster.
As Tom’s Dad says “Everyones got to die sometime”.
Four minutes …
"Reckon you could do the four minute mile then Tom," Dad asked as usual.
"I can beat you to the car" I said. In reality it was only about five hundred years downhill but it felt like a mile at times, especially going the other way.
"In your dreams son," he said taking off down the slope.
"You're cheatin'," I shouted setting off in pursuit of his back.
As we set off I noticed the car next to ours start up and come up the hill. It was black, some sort of Ford. There were two men in the front, both wearing hats. As it came nearer it started to accelerate.
It passed us and my dad slowed.
'Got him', I thought but then I heard a squeal of wheels. Passing dad I looked back and saw the car veering towards Mum, who was walking down the side of the road.
To this day I can't remember if I heard a sickening crunch as the large car or imagined it. What I did see was it scooping my mother up from her feet and over the side of the car. People talk about seeing accident victims as ragdolls, the way they seem to move in weird directions. Mum didn't look like that. She was a human being, made of skin, bones and blood not some doll made of cloth and straw. Her body wasn't designed to be thrown recklessly.
In my mind I saw her take ages to catapult over the side and land on the grass at the side of the road. The car never stopped and carried on over the hill.
"Nooooo" Dad yelled as he ran back up towards her.
I followed with all my might, but this was a race I wanted Dad to win. It took us less than a minute to cover those yards.
Mum was laid on the ground, her legs at impossible angles. Her tights were torn and I thought I could see white bone under the seeping blood. Looking back makes me feel sick at the sight, but at the time I felt detached not noticing. Her face was pale, against the green grass, blood ran down from her nose. Her eyes were closed yet fluttered openly slightly.
"It'll be OK pet," dad said stroking her hair, "it'll be OK".
"Mum", I said crouched by the side of her. Her body winced as I touched her hand wanting to reassure her. I pulled back afraid to hurt her more but wanting to make some contact.
"Oh it's so cold" mum said her eyes fluttering open and closed again.
"It'll be OK pet", dad said again, "get help Tom".
I stood up and looked around. It wasn't the busiest place. A couple of cows in the field opposite were looking uninterested through the gate.
"HELP" I yelled at the top of my voice.
"HELP, HELP, HELP" I yelled in desperation.
A horse turned its head at Cartwright's farm, it's ears pricked up. Nothing else.
"HELP, HELP, HELP" I emptied my breath into those screams, feeling the first tears of desperation run down my cheeks. It was a terrible feeling of not being able to do anything.
"It's OK son," dad says.
"It's getting dark early" mum muttered.
I knelt down again.
I could hear her laboured breathing now.
A ruttling in the throat.
Then it stopped.
The silence was killing.
I knew instantly that she'd stopped breathing.
"Flo..." Dad started shaking her limp body lightly.
There was no reaction, no wincing on mums face. The wounds on her legs had stopped bleeding as well.
There's no way to describe how it feels to see the life flow out of someone. Alive and responsive one minute, then in a split second there's nothing there. The body just an empty vessel, no life there. Its an unbelievable feeling. It was mum laid there as if she were asleep but she wasn't there any longer.
Four minutes …
That was all it had taken since the car had hit her.
Four minutes …
A nightmare happening in front of me.
In my dreams at this point I see it as if from a helicopter hovering overhead slowly pulling away. I never see the aftermath, when Cartwright came over. The ambulance. The police.
All a blur.
I just wake up screaming, crying.
Four minutes is all it took.
Four minutes that changed my world more than any nuclear bomb ever could.